Nottinghamshire PCC stands by police force over pay freeze clash with Home Office

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Nottinghamshire has rebelled against her own party to condemn a government police pay freeze that she said amounts to officers being “financially penalised” for the economic hardships resulting from Covid.

Nottinghamshire PCC Caroline Henry has issued a strong condemnation of the decision by Home Secretary Priti Patel to freeze salaries for all officers earning over £24,000, and called on the government to “have a rethink” in light of a fierce backlash from police leaders.

The move, which comes into effect for the 2021/22 pay year, has sparked anger from police chiefs across the country.

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On Thursday, July 22nd, National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman, Martin Hewitt condemned the decision after a torrid 18 months of policing during lockdown.

He said: “While we understand the pressures of government finances, the confirmed pay freeze for police officers is a hard pill to swallow. Police teams have done exceptional and extraordinary work in the pandemic at personal risk to them and their families. For many it will feel unfair and that their contribution is undervalued.

“In real-terms, officers’ pay lags behind where it stood in 2010, and it is out of step with current rises in the cost of living. As the Government makes spending decisions over the coming months, we are urging Ministers to fund meaningful and fair pay increases from 2022 that properly reflect the important and complex work police officers do.

Mrs Henry is understood to have met with Nottinghamshire Police Federation chairman Mark Petrovic since the announcement, which amounts to a pay cut for the majority of officers when inflation is taken into account.

She said: “Officers feel undervalued by the pay ‘pause’. That is not right. These are the people who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep us safe.

“They could not work from home, their job is out there in communities, where all too often they were abused and assaulted for their efforts.

“I wanted to let the federation know that I understand the officers’ anger on this, and I think it’s important that they know I am in their corner, fighting for a just pay reward for them. I am not going to stand-by and say nothing.”

The statement places Mrs Henry, who is married to Conservative MP for Broxtowe Darren Henry, at odds with her own party over the issue. In May she successfully ran for PCC as the Conservative candidate, becoming the first Tory to hold the office in Nottinghamshire.

Her comments also come after calls from local opposition politicians including Labour’s Lilian Greenwood to condemn the move.

On Friday July 22 the MP for Nottingham South challenged Mrs Henry on Twitter on the issue, asking “Will you be asking the Home Secretary why she thinks our police officers don’t deserve a pay rise?”

As PCC Mrs Henry is a member of the National Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), which yesterday wrote a letter condemning the Home Secretary and urging a rethink of the pay policy.

“I feel really strongly that police officers and staff should receive a pay rise,” she said. “I know that the nation’s financial position is challenging, but I do not believe that hardworking committed police officers should be financially penalised.

“I hope that the Government will relent on its position. I totally support the calls for a rethink and I will work with my fellow police and crime commissioners, the chief constable and the Federation to see what options we can realistically explore.”

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